Thursday, November 09, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #169

I'll be headed out for a much needed trip to Dallas tomorrow. Going to the No. 1-ranked Highland Park Football game against not-too-shabby West Mesquite. My main reason for going is to begin wrapping up filming for The Extra Mile. William Lawson is one of the subjects and is a receiver for HP. I can finally get onwith editing that one. I'm also very much looking forward to seeing a bunch of guys i've worked with over the years, several of whom play for HP, but others i'm just hoping to see at the game. Charles Bryant is my chauffeur/spotter/soundman for the trip. We return late only to get up Saturday morning for a day of special visitors. More on that, and pics later. We're also throwing a birthday party for Ruthie Saturday evening and well, there'll be lots of good folks around for that also.

From Soccer America:
Young St. John's storms into the NCAA Tournament
St. John's is the hottest team entering the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament.

The Red Storm have won six games in a row -- all by shutouts -- going into Friday's first-round game against visiting Monmouth.

After being decimated by defections during the offseason -- New Zealand international Steven Old turned pro and signed with Australia's Newcastle Jets, and four other starters with remaining college eligibility transferred -- the Red Storm regrouped around a core of freshmen -- seven in all -- who have been starting or coming off the bench.

The best known player is Ryan Soroka, the former U.S. U-17 winger who has been the Red Storm's main threat. He scored the game-winning goal in the first three Big East Tournament games and set up fellow freshman Adam Himeno for the golden goal in the final. Besides Soroka and Himeno, the freshman starters include David Reed, Swede Joel Gustafsson and Brazilian Tadeu Terra.

If St. John's gets past Monmouth -- no sure thing -- it will face defending champion Maryland for the fourth straight year in the NCAA Tournament.

WOMEN: Pilots begin title defense
Shunned by the NCAA women's soccer committee for a regional seed, defending NCAA Division I women's champion Portland opens its title defense with a tough test against BYU Thursday in Salt Lake City, Utah. Host Utah meets Idaho State in the only other first-round game being played on Thursday.

The Pilots finished sixth in the final Soccer America Women's Top 25 of the regular season. They were 14-3-3 with all three losses and two of their three ties coming against teams in the 64-team NCAA tournament field. But UP lost all three of its big games, falling to No. 2 North Carolina, No. 4 Santa Clara and No. 7 Florida State.

Megan Rapinoe, last year's Soccer America Women's Freshman of the Year, was lost for the season with a knee injury, but Michelle Enyeart is a candidate to succeed Rapinoe as the nation's top freshman. The Pilots have plenty of experience in juniors Stephanie Lopez and Angie Woznuk, U.S. internationals like Rapinoe.

Portland has a history of success when being shipped off for preliminary round games. In 2002, the Pilots were sent to Provo, Utah, for games as the No. 8 seed and went on to become the lowest seed to ever win the championship. Last year, Portland was a No. 1 seed but was still sent to Lincoln, Neb., for its first two matches before going on to win its second title.

This year is a little different, as BYU is ranked No. 14 and Utah, a potential second-round opponent, is No. 10.

BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood is looking forward to facing Portland.

"We get to the play the defending national champs, which is great," she says. "We play well and get up for talented teams. I think we have a lot to look forward to."

SCOUTING REPORT: NCAA Division III men's top five
The NCAA Division III Men's Tournament began on Wednesday with seven first-round games. It continues this weekend with action at eight regional sites. Here's a look at the top five teams in the final NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division III rankings of the regular season. (Tomorrow: the D3 women's top five.)

1. TRINITY (TEXAS). Making their 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers (18-1-0) have emerged as a national powerhouse in recent years. They won the D3 title in 2003 and reached the quarterfinals in 2005. German Gomez (26 points), Patrick Floeck (25) and Ben Stewart (25) lead a balanced attack that has averaged 4.17 goals a game.

2. YORK. The Spartans (19-0-2) won their second straight Capital Athletic Conference tournament title after going through the regular season unblemished at 19-0-2. Andrew Wheeler (18 goals, 10 assists) was the CSC Player of the Year. Midfielder Chris Ports (10 goals) has been outstanding since returning to full strength.

3. MESSIAH. The Falcons' 46-game unbeaten streak ended in the Commonwealth Conference semifinals when they lost to Elizabethtown, 1-0, despite outshooting the Blue Jays, 18-1. The goal was only only the eighth Messiah (16-1-1) has given up all season. Patrick Lenehan leads the defending D3 champions with 14 goals.

4. REDLANDS. In his first year, veteran MLS and U.S. Soccer coach Ralph Perez has the Bulldogs firing on all cylinders. They crushed Caltech, 8-0, last week to finish the regular season at 19-1-0 with 12 wins in a row. Redlands will have to leave California for St. Louis, where they open tournament play against Fontbonne on Friday.

5. OHIO WESLEYAN. The Bishops fell to Allegheny on penalty kicks in the North Coast Athletic Conference semifinals. Goalie Jamison Dague takes a 0.30 goals-against average into the NCAA Tournament.

NJCAA: Herkimer hosts final fours
Herkimer County (N.Y.) Community College hosts the NJCAA Division III men's and women's final fours Saturday and Sunday.

The defending champion Generals are the top seeds in the men's tournament. They needed an overtime goal from Englishman Joe Hunt to beat SUNY Cobleskill, 1-0, last week's Region III final. Their only loss was to NJCAA D1 powerhouse Mercer County in early October.

Georgia's Oxford College, part of the Emory University system, is the highest ranked team in the
most recent NSCAA/adidas NJCAA D3 women's poll to have advanced to the finals. (The non-scholarship California JCs, including No. 1 Santiago Canyon, don't compete in NJCAA competitions.) No. 2 Oxford beat Holyoke (Mass.) Community College, 2-0, to secure its first appearance at a women's final four.

Dallas area JC power Richland has teams entered in the men's and women's final fours. The Thunderducks open play in the men's competition -- which they won in 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- against Nassau Community College -- Bruce Arena's alma mater.

NJCAA D3 Men's Semifinals
Nov. 11 in Herkimer, N.Y.
Herkimer County (19-1-1) vs. Potomac State (13-1-2)
Richland (14-2-2) vs. Nassau (18-1-1)

NJCAA D3 Women's Semifinals
Nov. 11 in Herkimer, N.Y.
Mohawk Valley (14-5-1) vs. Brookdale (14-2-0)
Oxford (12-2-4) vs. Richland (12-4-1)

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